29 Restorative Practices: Healing After Incarceration – Community Program

Authors: Shameka Cunningham, McKinley E. Melton, Adrienne Danyelle Oliver, Carmin Wong

Target Group: Program designed for recently incarcerated community members (adult learners)

“What do we do with what we feel? How do we name our experiences?”

Poem: “When the Therapist Asks You to Recount, You Have to Say It” by Aricka Foreman (Furious Flower 2019, pp. 100-101)

Start with an exercise to ground participants in the space:

  • Communal breathing exercise
  • Setting an intention: what brought you to this space, and what do you hope to gain while here?

Guided meditation: “What’s a thing you’ve never told anyone?” (not to be shared, just meditated upon)

Frame Black literature as “speaking the unspeakable” and giving language to the unlanguageable, highlighting that aspect of the tradition as a means of setting up Foreman’s poem and the writing exercises.

Read Aricka Foreman’s “When the Therapist Asks You to Recount, You Have to Say It.”

  • First read: just sit with the experience.
  • Second read: name a moment that resonates with you and why?
    • Invite participants to share, with facilitator offering commentary that frames their observations/responses within language of poetic craft.

Guided discussion through the elements of the poem:

  • Speaker
  • Title
  • Structure/Form
  • Craft elements
  • If it doesn’t come up through the participants, what do we make of the creation of “ogs?”
    • Act of empowerment to name your villain/predator
    • Giving language to the unlanguageable, speaking the unspeakable

Design an exercise that can prompt participants toward writing.

  • Give “that thing” that you can’t talk about a name and a definition (model from “og”) What is “og?” Define.
  • Let’s write a cento together, beginning with the line: “It starts this way.”

Collaborate in the creation of a collage poem.

  • Lead discussion/response to collage poem following reading.
  • Wrap up discussion of individual lines as part of a collective experience we’ve all now shared.

Set another intention as you close the session and prepare to leave the space.


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The Furious Flower Syllabus Project: Opening the World of Black Poetry Copyright © 2024 by Anastacia-Reneé; allia abdullah-matta; Ariana Benson; Mary Beth Cancienne; Teri Ellen Cross Davis; Shameka Cunningham; Hayes Davis; Tyree Daye; Angel C. Dye; Brian Hannon; T.J. Hendrix; DaMaris B. Hill; Meta DuEwa Jones; Shauna M. Morgan; Adrienne Danyelle Oliver; Leona Sevick; James Smethurst; Dana A. Williams; L. Lamar Wilson; Carmin Wong; Dave Wooley; and Joanne V. Gabbin (preface) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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